What makes a good waiting room?
First impressions are everything, and when it comes to healthcare, this is no exception. Having a nice waiting room is a great way to alleviate patient stress, and works wonders in facilitating a welcoming environment that promotes tranquility and positivity. Creating a warm space is an excellent route to increasing patient satisfaction, and can significantly improve the overall healthcare experience. However, we know that interior design may not be your particular forte as a healthcare professional, which is why we’re here to help provide you with waiting room decorating ideas, that are sure to elevate the quality of your services. Regardless of whether you use practice management software, you can ensure your background and workspace is inviting.
Influence of waiting room environment on quality of healthcare
It's easy to overlook the design aspect of your workplace in the healthcare profession, which is highly focused on therapy and clinical outcomes. After all, you're supposed to be assessing patients and resolving their problems, not stressing over the aesthetics and placement of your potted plants! However, you may be surprised to learn that waiting rooms have a substantial impact on the patient experience and can work to raise the perceived quality of service, which in turn increases customer satisfaction. Not only that, but having an inviting, light, and open atmosphere can work towards increasing the Patient Average Visit (PVA) rates, which are critical for retaining clients, and promoting loyalty within your clinic. Regardless of whether you have a small or large waiting room, what matters is how you transform your space into one that is welcoming, and leaves a good impression on patients before their appointments. While there are physical environment policies in healthcare that can guide you through this process, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to designing a space that works. The main findings are that pleasant furniture and décor, light artwork, and decent lighting all contribute to more favorable encounters and better patient reception. There’s an inherent psychological element to waiting rooms, and being able to tap into this aspect and utilize it to your advantage is absolutely essential, as you can create professional relationships before you’ve even met with your clients.
7 ways to create an interesting environment in your patients waiting room
To help guide you, we’ve collated the top 7 ways that you can create a welcoming waiting room environment that works to increase the perceived quality of care amongst patients. Implementing these waiting area ideas will help you elevate the patient experience, especially with tricky clients, and generate a lasting impression that alleviates stress.
Keep your waiting room clean and tidy
Although it seems obvious, you should always remember to prioritize the cleanliness of your space. Waiting rooms, particularly in healthcare, may quickly become cluttered and rather chaotic, with filthy cups and trash that has been disregarded in favor of your expanding list of other responsibilities. This can feel highly unhygienic and overwhelming for patients, therefore it's critical that you keep your environment clean and orderly at all times!
Provide entertainment like TV or Wi-Fi
Sometimes you may deal with an influx of patients, meaning that despite waitlist management efforts, your wait times will inevitably increase. Having entertainment options such as TV, wi-fi, gaming consoles for younger patients, and reading materials, will make time pass much faster for patients. They also serve as great distractions for those who may be feeling anxious or stressed.
Inform patients of the wait times
As mentioned, you can’t always avoid long wait times, so you should have a system in place that keeps patients informed in regard to how much longer they have to wait. This may mean implementing a convenient virtual waiting room option, where you allow patients to wait in cars, or at home, before notifying them when they need to come in.
Add a personal touch
Remember that you always want to create an inviting atmosphere, so feel free to add personal touches here and there to prevent the space from feeling cold. This may entail playing upbeat or relaxing background music, providing snack bars, natural lighting, and small decorations, as well as plants and flowers. Anything to make your waiting room feel like a home is welcome.
Add a play area for children
With the possibility of longer wait times, it’s important that you have a designated area for children to play without bothering other patients. As you know, children need to be distracted and entertained when sitting around for long periods and having a play area can make other patients feel more comfortable. Most of all, the children can feel more at ease and relaxed!
Implement pre-registration and digital check-in
Digital check-ins and pre-registration are a great way to increase efficiency and avoid long wait times within your practice, which is always a plus. You can get all the tedious and administrative information out of the way, with patients registering and completing paperwork before meeting face-to-face with you. If social distancing is needed, these processes also make such transitions simple.
Provide healthy and nutritious snacks
Providing healthy snacks is an excellent way to promote health and nutrition within your practice, and can also be a great stress reliever for anxious patients. They’re also a convenient channel for you to enter into partnerships with local health food companies!
Managing the risk of COVID-19 in waiting rooms
While COVID-19 risk management may be routine at this point, it’s important that you’re aware of the procedures and processes that you should implement to mitigate health risks. This way, you can keep any outbreaks at bay, and avoid infecting staff and other patients, should there be an increase in Covid cases. There are several strategies to ensure public health and safety during Covid periods, and one of them is to enforce physical separation standards. Spacing your furniture 1.5 meters apart, as well as placing stickers and signs that guide patients, is a great way to remind clients to maintain proper distance. Additionally, supplying free face masks as well as hand sanitizer is highly beneficial in minimizing the spread of Covid pathogens, and providing the necessary sign-in measures is also welcome.
Creating a visually interesting environment for your telehealth practice
Even if you can work from home, which is often the case these days, providing telehealth requires a physical environment policy for your healthcare organization. This means that you still need to maintain good impressions, and one of the best ways to do that is by thinking about your background and home environment that’s shown to clients in your video sessions. Although you’re not meeting face-to-face, you still want to establish a welcoming environment that promotes positive healthcare experiences, and that your surroundings reflect your professionality. This entails working in a well-lit environment with a high-quality camera, and microphone, and having minimal background distractions. Assuring that all of these factors are met will result in an effective virtual backdrop, signaling to your patient that their therapy will be just as effective utilizing telehealth as it would be in person.
Take home message
Creating a welcoming waiting area is one of the finest ways to demonstrate your professionalism while improving positive patient experiences. Taking the time to arrange and evaluate your surroundings demonstrates an elevated level of care that your patients will appreciate, and it can also help to ease stress during sessions. Hopefully, by following our advice, you will create a wonderful health environment that attracts clients and develops loyalty to your services.